The need

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the pausing of elective care, NHS Trusts around the country were faced with significant backlogs in elective care. University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust sought to tackle their mounting waiting lists through securing an investment in an additional capacity solution.

The plan

As part of the Devon Accelerator Programme, the Trust secured funding to increase their surgical capacity through the national NHS Elective Recovery Fund. The plan detailed the relocation of existing ophthalmology theatres from level 7 within the main Derriford hospital to the purpose-built facility, creating additional space within the main hospital.

The Vanguard Solution

Vanguard Healthcare Solutions designed, built and installed a mixed-modality Healthcare Spaces solution, consisting of two mobile operating theatres and a connecting modular support hub, to provide additional capacity at Derriford Hospital. The solution was designed by Vanguard in collaboration with clinical teams at Derriford Hospital to ensure that the facility exactly met the unique needs of the hospital and those working in it.

The facility was installed in August 2021 and has been operational 5 days per week, allowing for an increased number of elective procedures to take place.

The outcome

The facility has been essential in providing life-changing ophthalmology treatments to patients in Plymouth and the surrounding areas, undertaking a range of ophthalmological procedures including cataracts, dacrocystorhinostomy, ectropion and blepharoplasty. Amongst other procedures, around 14 cataract procedures are completed daily and 8-10 vitrecomies are completed per week.

The Trust has experienced great success in tackling their surgical backlog through the introduction of the Vanguard solution and as a result the contract has been extended for a further three months.

The Patient Experience

Furthermore, the bespoke surgical solution has assisted in creating positive patient outcomes, as explained by one patient here. Indeed, Sous Chef Mark Cawley was one of an early cohort of patients to be treated in the new modular facility and was full of praise for his care: “I was sightless for two weeks and that was really scary, so I could do nothing but praise the NHS. I can’t believe I can see, and when you don’t have sight, people within the general public don’t actually understand how scary it is. But now I can read, and I can work, I can write menus, I can read menus. I go in with a big smile and people don’t get it because they haven’t been there. I tell every man and his dog, guess what? NHS is awesome”.

Maxine Lawson, Account Manager for the South at Vanguard said: “The mixed-modality surgical solution stationed at Derriford hospital proved to be a perfect solution to efficiently and accurately meet the needs of the Trust in a timely manner. Covid-19 has posed numerous challenges to NHS Trusts across the country, however the introduction of the Vanguard facility has proved essential in targeting the ophthalmic backlog at Derriford Hospital.”

Dr Tomas Cudrnak, Clinical Director for Ophthalmology said: “We were experiencing an issue with theatre capacity across the whole hospital, which meant that the number of sessions we were able to deliver within our previous location each week dropped from 20 to 14. This new facility has been a very good step forward in terms of meeting the expectations of our patients, as we dedicate one theatre to high-volume cataract and the other to sub-specialty treatments.”